Why You Need to Protect Your Brand in a World of Food Recalls and Bad Yelp Reviews

Date Posted: May 9, 2019
Why You Need to Protect Your Brand in a World of Food Recalls and Bad Yelp Reviews

Imagine this: You’re on a business trip and have just arrived in a new city you’ve never been to before.

It’s dinnertime, and you decide to try to find a good local restaurant to go to for dinner.

Somewhere that’s close to your hotel. Somewhere with decent reviews, an appetizing menu, and prices within your price range.

So, how do you decide where to go?

If you’re like most modern restaurant-goers, you use your smartphone to peruse local restaurants. Maybe you choose “restaurants near me” on Google or Apple Maps, enter in a quick Google search, or use the Yelp or TripAdvisor apps.

Regardless of how you search for restaurants, though, it’s all done via the convenience of your smartphone. And the collective reviews and ratings that pop up help to steer you towards your final choice.

Welcome to the present—and future—of modern dining.

The Current State

The B2C buying process has changed significantly in recent years with the rise of social media, marketing influencers, and smartphone usage. Brands that once were behemoths have declared bankruptcy; others have closed their doors permanently.

Today’s consumers demand authenticity and transparency. As a result, brand loyalty is not what it once was. Perhaps B2C consumers are fickler than before, but the undeniable truth is that the way we buy has evolved dramatically.

Reviews of restaurants and movies are no longer in the hands of a few select reviewers. The era of Siskel and Ebert and their restaurant-reviewing equivalents has passed. We’ve seen the democratization of brand reviews. Now, everyone is a reviewer. Everyone is an influencer. Anyone can share their opinion.

What does that mean for today’s restaurants?

In today’s post, we’re going to delve into this topic in depth. Read on to learn:

  • How people buy
  • How negative reviews directly affect a restaurant’s reputation (and bottom line)
  • How food safety fits in
  • How to protect your brand

How People Buy & Choose Where to Dine: 6 Stats

How do people choose what to buy nowadays?

What are the numbers behind how today’s diners choose where to go?

And how do positive reviews increase a restaurant’s bottom line?

Consider the following statistics:

1) 65% of consumers trust what they find on online search engines when researching different businesses per the Edelman Trust Barometer.

Key Takeaway: What people say about your restaurant online matters greatly to today’s buyers.

2) 97% of today’s consumers look for local businesses online according to a 2018 BrightLocal survey.

Key Takeaway: If you’re a local restaurant—especially a single-location restaurant or a small collection of independent restaurants—your online reputation matters more than ever.

3) The same BrightLocal survey shows that consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel that they can trust a local business.

Key Takeaway: Today’s consumers crave information and do their research before choosing a business to visit or buy from.

4) How many stars your business has is important: Per another BrightLocal stat, 57% of consumers will only use a business of it has 4 or more stars.

Key Takeaway: If your business has enough poor reviews and has less than 4 stars, over 50% of the population may choose not to visit your restaurant. Think of the traffic you’re losing.

5) A new TripAdvisor survey entitled “Influences on Diner Decision-Making” revealed that 94% of U.S. diners’ decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Key Takeaway: You can’t afford to ignore your online reputation in today’s marketplace. It is absolutely necessary to ensure the success of your restaurant.

6) According to a TouchBistro survey of 521 American consumers, Millennials are much more likely to look at online reviews (67%) and social media (34%) than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts.

*Source: TouchBistro

Key Takeaways: The younger your audience, the more likely that they’ll turn to search engines and apps in their decision-making process. In order to succeed with the restaurant-goers of today and tomorrow, you’ll need a positive online reputation.

How Negative Reviews & Poor Online Reputations Affect Businesses: 4 Stats

We’ve already seen how important your online reputation is in today’s world and how positive reviews can influence your restaurant traffic.

Now, we’re going to examine how negative reviews and a negative brand image can affect your restaurant.

The following compelling stats illustrate a few salient truths:

1) According to Reputation X, 86% of prospective customers don’t convert if they see a review with only 1 or 2 stars.

Key Takeaway: How many stars you have directly correlated to how many people choose—or do not choose—to visit your restaurant.

2) & 3) Corra showed that 88% of participants in one of their surveys have avoided a company if they had a bad review on social media—which is more startling when you keep in mind that 70% of Americans use social media according to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Global Digital 2019 reports.

Key Takeaways: Social media is not going away and has become a fixture in American lives. We can expect, then, to have more and more reviews about businesses flood social media accounts. And if 88% (or around this estimate) of social media users avoid companies just because of a bad review, the possible business losses can be staggering.

4) When customers complain about businesses, they are most likely to do so on social media or on websites that consumers turn to for research. Amazon, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Reddit, and TripAdvisor top the lists.

Key Takeaways: Consumers are turning to social media and Google searches when they research businesses to frequent or work with. If they’re dissatisfied, they will express their dissatisfaction with the exact websites that serve as prime spots for said research. This means that restaurants with negative reviews on any of these sites could have their reputations damaged by people doing online research about them.

The Importance of Food Quality, Food Safety & Food Recalls with Today’s Restaurant Goers: 6 Stats

We’ve explored how today’s consumers buy, how negative reviews can affect businesses, and which sources consumers turn to during their decision-making process.

But how do food quality, food safety, and food recalls fit in?

Let’s look at a few more statistics to see:

1) Per Corra, in a customer service situation where consumers are likely to complain, on a scale of 1 to 5, 3.13 consumers will complain when the food is bad at a restaurant.

Key Takeaways: Bad food = unhappy customers. Unhappy customers = more aptness to complain. And as we saw in the previous section, unhappy customers are more likely to complain online… exactly where other prospective customers are turning to when they’re evaluating where to eat. Essentially, it’s a lose-lose situation.

2) Of the four key external drivers for industry performance identified by the market research firm IBISWorld, food safety tops the list for full-service restaurants, fast food restaurants, and chain restaurants.

Key Takeaway: Food safety is extremely important for a restaurant’s performance and directly affects it.

3) Food recalls are on the rise and have actually quadrupled over the past few years.

Key Takeaway: With this trend, we can’t ignore the importance of ensuring our food is safe in restaurants, grocery stores, and the global supply chain ecosystem as a whole.

4) According to Food Safety Magazine, there were 382 recorded food product recalls in 2018.

Key Takeaway: The number of food recalls continues to grow, and 2018 was no exception. (Bonus reading: 8 Notable 2018 Recalls.) 

5) 55% of adults said they would temporarily purchase another brand and then purchase the recalled brand once it was safe if the food was recalled due to health or safety concerns according to a 2014 Harris Poll.

Key Takeaway: Brands can temporarily lose market share if they experience a food recall—which is likely with food recalls being on the rise.

6) The average cost of a recall to a food company is $10M in direct costs.

Key Takeaway: If food recalls cost a food company $10M, just imagine how a similar equivalent can affect a restaurant brand….

It’s worth noting that in addition to these statistics, online reviews now include food safety violations.

In July 2018, Yelp announced that they would be expanding a food safety program (which had originally just been relegated to the San Francisco area) across the U.S.  Yelp currently works with a third-party organization called HDScores which scans safety inspection reports and then analyzes this information to provide a rating.

You can now see a Health Score on the main page for restaurants that gives each establishment a health score of A, B, or C or in some cities, a rating out of 100.

Yelp Chicago and other locations provide even more information about their restaurants and list all of the critical violations, non-critical violations, and the inspection dates, as you can see in this example:

*Source: Yelp Chicago

So, not only will consumers be swayed by the overall results, but they can also choose whether or not to visit a restaurant based on transparent healthcare data.

When you keep in mind that food safety violations already cost restaurants hundreds to thousands of dollars in food safety violation fines, the overall cost can indeed be dire.

Brand Protection with Food-Temperature Monitoring Systems

In summary, bad reviews and food recalls can dissuade today’s diners and B2C buyers from working with or visiting a particular restaurant or business.

This makes brand protection and reputation management all the more important.

Fiona Fenwick explains the importance of both as follows in an article by Sheelagh Cygil:

“Although we can’t control others’ opinions, we can take control of what we do and how those actions may influence their opinion. Building a reputation is vital for success whether you are an individual or a global company…. If you’re a company, it will attract customers or clients and often allow you a premium price point if people perceive your product or service as better than the competition. I always look at the authenticity of those I work with. I ask myself if I can trust them and what they do. If I can answer yes, then that’s the starting point for building, supporting or defending a reputation. Brand and reputation are closely intertwined.”

As such, pursuing ways to protect your brand, fight the possibility of negative online reviews, ensure high-quality food is being supplied, and prevent food recalls are absolutely necessary.

But how can you do so?

Though there are many different kinds of strategies you can use to address the different facets of brand protection, one way that you can protect your assets and, inherently, your brand is with food-temperature monitoring systems like HiQ eSystems.

Here’s how.

Food contamination claims are not only expensive but potentially devastating to a restaurant’s reputation and brand. The cost, if neglected, could be the very existence of the organization you’ve worked so hard to build.

Product safety is jeopardized when products are without refrigeration for a period of time. HiQ eSystems will send you an alert if your freezer or refrigerator temperature goes outside the parameter you set.

Determining what product is unharmed after a system failure may be costly if it is later found to be unsafe. The HiQ eSystems temperature monitors allow you to monitor your asset 24/7 and assure that your valuable assets are stored in safe conditions.

In conclusion, using temperature monitoring systems helps you to protect your brand and corporate image, provide a superior overall experience, and give your customers confidence that your food is safe and consistent.

Looking for solutions to protect your assets and protect your brand? Get in touch today!